It might be haunted

Fake it ’til you make it??? – 3 Tips for Success

There is a first time for everything… and this month the Architalks gang has decided to focus on “First Projects”.  Instead of bragging about highlighting the fact that my first architecturally related project in Charleston was a super glamorous, high paying endeavor that absolutely did not involve hand measuring a pigeon infested, abandoned, and possibly haunted building… … … I am going to focus on the emotional rollercoaster of doing something for the first time  and provide 3 tips for success when encountering Architectural firsts.

It might be haunted
Creepy… Right?

I’m sure you have all heard the saying “fake it ’til you make it”. I don’t particularly enjoy the saying because it implies a level of deceit being necessary for success, but there is some truth to the phrase if you focus on the underlying psychology behind doing something for the first time.  The first of anything is a nerve-wracking experience.  No matter how much time, effort, and energy you have spent preparing for a task, actually executing it is a completely new endeavor.  However, if you approach the foreign situation with confidence (and proper prior training), you have a much higher chance of success.  So, to help you succeed, I am providing you with my three tips for tackling a “first” with confidence.


Tip #1: Focus on what you know

When asked by her children to “wish them luck on a test”, my late grandmother would lovingly respond:

“I’ll pray you remember everything you studied…”

She knew very well that you can’t recall (or present) what you don’t know.  So in a new situation, focus on what you’ve studied. Pulling from what you know allows you to speak from a place of confidence and certainty that Clients pick up on. It’s the same tactic as a critique in Architectural School… Don’t focus on the areas where your presentation is lacking… Focus on the areas where it excels.


Tip #2: Listen

We’re all humans here (hopefully) and we all seek the attention and reassurance of others.  We, as humans, provide attention by actively listening.   So, when you are the one in charge for the first time, or meeting with clients for the first time, or presenting for the first time, remember to actively listen to those around you.  You’ll gain valuable information (see tip#1) and instill a sense of confidence in your Clients and Coworkers by showing them that you are paying attention to their needs. Lest you forget… we are in a service based industry…


Tip #3: Don’t Lie

This probably should have been tip #1, but I felt that was a bit aggressive to start with. The fake it ’til you make it saying implies that you need to lie to get ahead.  This could not be farther from the truth with Clients. If you are asked a question you don’t know the answer to and you lie about it… they know. And you know they know and then the downward spiral begins.  Worse yet, your Clients lose confidence in their ability to trust you and that can kill a project.  Instead, simply reply:

“I don’t have that answer for you at this time, but let me do some research and get back to you about it.”

How hard was that? You aren’t going to have all the answers when you do something (anything) for the first time, so why lie about it?

One of the great things about Architecture is the variety. Architects experience “firsts” all the time.  From new Clients to new project types to new design styles, the daily routine is any but. So remember: Focus on what you know, Listen, and above all else, Don’t Lie!

Good luck and be sure to check out everyone elses’ Architalks posts below!

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
My First Project: The Best Project Ever Designed That Wasn’t

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
My First Project – Again

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
first project first process

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
#ArchiTalks: My first project

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
The First One — A Tale of Two Projects

Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
Why every project is my “First”

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
The Early Years of My Architecture Career – My Role

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
What is Architecture

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
[first] project [worst] crit

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
My First Project – The First Solar Decathlon #Architalks

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)
Project Me

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
Define First?

Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@thatarchstudent)
my first project

Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Top ten tips when faced with a challenging Architectural project

Aaron Bowman – Product & Process (@PP_Podcast)
Community 101

Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
My First Project – The Contemporary Cottage

Nisha Kandiah – TCDS (@SKRIBBLES_INC)
The Question of the Beginning

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
My “First Project”

Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)
Our First Architecture Project [#ArchiTalks]

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“My First Project”

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
My First Project

Samantha Raburn – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
6 Major Differences between my 1st School Project & my 1st Real Project

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3 thoughts on “Fake it ’til you make it??? – 3 Tips for Success

  1. Being upfront and honest is something that is really admirable these days. Especially with a position like an architect where being really honest with what is and isn’t possible is really important. Being honest will also really help your reputation and in turn get you more clients. Thanks for posting these great tips for architects to see and what to look for when you’re hiring one!

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